Further refinement of effort expected at upcoming CPC National Congress

During the eight-day National Day holiday this month, a onetime imperial garden in downtown Beijing’s Beihai Park received numerous visitors from home and abroad.

I’ve been to the park many times before, but it’s my first time to see the garden, said Zhang Xi, a middle-aged visitor.

It was not easy to enter the garden before because it had been occupied by a luxury restaurant that provided services for only a very small group of people, the Beijing resident said.

Yilan Hall, which was used for reading by Emperor Qianlong, an 18th-century ruler of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was open to the public in May after the Fangshan restaurant, which had first occupied the space in the late 1950s, moved out.

The change offers a glimpse into changes brought by the austerity campaign pushed in the past five years by the Communist Party of China, led by General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping.

Fighting corruption and tightening self-supervision to rule out luxurious lifestyles and excess bureaucracy on the part of officials have been priorities of the Party since the 18th CPC National Congress in late 2012.

Our Party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the Party that need to be resolved, particularly corruption, taking bribes, being divorced from the people, going through formalities and bureaucracy caused by some Party officials, Xi told reporters on Nov 15, 2012, the day the new leadership was elected.

We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole Party must stay on full alert, he said.

On Dec 4 of that year, the CPC released its eight-point rules, requiring officials to strictly practice frugality and clean up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucratization, hedonism and extravagance. Practices such as the use of public funds to buy gifts, hold banquets and pay for holidays have since been strictly banned.

The rules have fundamentally changed the work style and lifestyle of many. By the end of this July, about 244,000 Party members, most of whom are officials at different levels, had received discipline or administrative penalties for breaking the eight-point rules, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s top discipline watchdog.

Everyone is equal before Party rules and laws, no matter how high level he or she may be. In five years, more than 280 centrally administered officials, most of whom were at or above ministerial level, have been investigated by the CCDI, including Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, Sun Zhengcai and Ling Jihua. Among them, at least 120 have been transferred to judicial authorities to face justice, according to the CCDI.

To bring corrupt officials who have fled overseas back to face justice, China has heightened its cooperation with the international community.

By the end of August, 3,339 fugitives had returned to the Chinese mainland from more than 90 countries and regions, with 628 of them being former officials. About 9.36 billion yuan ($1.41 billion) was recovered, CCDI figures show.

Among China’s top 100 most-wanted fugitives listed on Interpol red notices, the closest thing to an international arrest warrant, 48 have returned.

These efforts have helped the Party gain crushing momentum in its anti-corruption fight and won public applause, said Xin Ming, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

A National Bureau of Statistics report shows that about 93 percent of the Chinese public were satisfied with the Party’s anti-graft campaign last year, up from the 75 percent in 2012.

The biggest problem that threatens the ruling foundation of the CPC has been resolved, Xin said, adding that the CPC must be strong itself in order to better lead the country and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

In light of these achievements, the central leadership retains a sober mind. In a key speech made on July 26, Xi said that although the public has spoken highly of the Party’s strict self-discipline efforts, fighting graft and tightening inner-Party supervision will always continue.

We should in no way feel complacent or blindly optimistic, he said. To govern the Party strictly in all aspects, we still have a long way to go.

Yang Xiaodu, minister of supervision and deputy head of the CCDI, said in August that the crushing momentum against corruption needs to be further consolidated, and the self-supervision of the Party will be further improved.

Experts said they are looking forward to the CPC’s 19th National Congress, which will start on Wednesday, as the congress is expected to continue the Party’s anti-corruption drive.

For the next five years, the CPC will continue its efforts in anti-corruption while attaching equal or more importance to preventing the emergence of corruption, Xin said.

Yang Yongchun, vice-president of China Against Corruption Law Association, said that more practical measures are expected, such as the formal establishment of a supervisory commission.

The new institution would integrate separate and less effective corruption control authorities, for instance, in a move to ensure the Party is fully supervised, he said.

A comprehensive system against corruption, including inspection, supervision and accountability sections, is also expected to be further improved, he added.

By the end of 2016, the country had more than 89 million Party members, 688,000 more than in 2015, while the figure for grassroots organizations exceeded 4.51 million, 105,000 more than in 2015, according to official Party figures.

Meeting held once every five years is momentous for nation and world

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, to be convened in Beijing on Wednesday, is set to become a new milestone in the Party’s success and in national rejuvenation.

The CPC, with more than 89 million members, is not only the largest political party in the world and in history, but more importantly, it is the ruling party in the largest developing country — home to nearly one-fifth of the world population.

The all-important meeting provides the Party an opportunity to explicitly declare which policies it upholds and which path it will take in the next five years before the next congress and even beyond, according to experts and researchers. As China is the second-largest economy, contributing over 30 percent to global growth since 2008, answers to these questions concern the world.

Its rise along its own path over the past five years, while drawing points from many other countries, represents the constant improvement of that path. This is shown not only in stable growth and productive restructuring, but also in a larger say and role in global governance that has accompanied China’s new type of major-country diplomacy, active participation in multilateral mechanisms and the Belt and Road Initiative.

The path, which is officially termed socialism with Chinese characteristics, is by no means a vague concept. It is a pragmatic path that has been adhered to and enriched by different generations of leadership since 1978, when the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee convened in Beijing. That session addressed the historical issues left by the cultural revolution (1966-76), ushering in a new era of reform and opening-up.

Meetings are of vital importance to good governance in China. Some, though held decades ago, like the 1978 plenary session, remain fresh in the public’s memory. They represent paradigm shifts in the operation of the country and influence people’s lives.

A recent example is the 18th CPC National Congress five years ago. It prioritized clean governance, innovative growth, green development and national confidence. The new leadership has ever since demonstrated the corresponding executive power to transform ideas into realities in an increasingly sure and predictable manner.

The 19th CPC National Congress, which comes at a decisive moment in the construction of a well-off society by 2020, and at a key period in the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, is expected to chalk up new guidelines, if not action plans, along the path.

The meeting’s results will directly concern three problems deciding China’s future: the driving force and innovative power of social development; the balance, harmony and stability of social development; and good governance of society and the country, Han Qingxiang, a member of the administration committee of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, writes in People’s Daily.

Han said the meeting, while a Party gathering, will certainly inject new vitality into Chinese society. This will be seen in better solutions to problems in education, caring for the elderly, housing, medical care and income distribution. It also will be seen in advancing good governance in the fast-changing country by improving its efficiency and abilities in solving problems.

Li Lin, director of the institute of law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rule of law, which will definitely top the agenda of the congress, is a profound revolution in the realm of governance.

He said the Party will unswervingly deepen the rule of law as one of the most important ways to modernize its governance system. It will send a clear message showing the Party’s resolve in advancing the rule of law, Li said.

China’s political party system, a key component of the path, will be further strengthened by the meeting, Yuan Tinghua, former deputy head of the Central Institute of Socialism, said in People’s Daily.

Experience has shown the complexity of China’s modernization requires a political party system that has an exceptional capacity for integration, always uniting different forces to strive for a common goal. China’s political party system has just that ability, Yuan said.

The system can only be strengthened with China’s development, he added. Neither a two-party system nor a multiparty system fits China’s national conditions, and would split society. The success of China’s political party system provides a new paradigm for the development of party politics.

The meeting also is expected to stick to some judgments that have not been changed.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has reiterated the necessity for Party members to understand the largest practical national conditions. This could be summarized in the following points: China has remained and will remain in the primary stage of socialism; the main social conflict remains the gap between needs and production; and China has been and will continue to be the largest developing country.

Tao Wenzhao, a professor of politics at Renmin University of China, said these national conditions are the starting points for policymaking, keeping decision-makers clearheaded and preventing China’s drifting from its path.

The meeting, the last of its kind before 2020, will mark the start of the final sprint before accomplishing the goal of realizing a well-off society.

Authorities conclude investigation of parlor where 18 people died

A total of 22 people were punished in connection with a fire that killed 18 people in Zhejiang province in February, the province’s work safety watchdog said in an online statement announcing the results of its investigation on Tuesday.

One official was dismissed and two others were demoted. Ten others received lesser punishments, including demerits and admonishment.

Two of the victims were employees of the foot massage parlor that burned in Tiantai county, Taizhou city; the others were customers. The blaze, which occurred on Feb 5, also injured 18 other people.

Li Hua, Party chief of the Tiantai county fire brigade, was dismissed. Ma Lingguang, former Party chief of the brigade, and Gao Yunpeng, a former staff officer of the brigade, were demoted, the Zhejiang Work Safety Administration said.

It also said three officials, including the deputy secretary-general of the Taizhou city government, Ying Zhengnan, who was working as deputy head of Tiantai at the time of the fire, have been given demerits on their records.

Nine people, including shareholders of the parlor and heads of companies who were involved in the parlor’s construction and decoration, have been in custody for criminal investigation. In addition to the potential criminal charges, the nine should shoulder the civil compensation to the victims, the administration said.

Investigators attributed the fire to malfunctioning electro-thermal film in a sauna that resulted in excess heat. The parlor resorted to deceit to get its operating permission from the authorities and also put the sauna into use after ignoring authorities’ requirement to rectify problems. The lack of firefighting knowledge on the part of the parlor’s employees made the situation worse, the investigation found.

The sauna malfunctioned three times from 2015 to last year, but after the malfunction in October, the parlor failed to take corrective measures, the investigation found.

There were 78 people, including 48 customers, in the parlor when the fire broke out. An employee named Xiong Shouxin tried but failed to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher after a customer called for help. Only after finding the fire was out of control, Xiong left the parlor to shout to customers on the second floor to get out, the authorities said.

Managers failed to train employees in emergency procedures or hold evacuation exercises after it went into operation in 2014, the authorities said.

Zhang Xiaoming, the new head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.

Zhang Xiaoming, who headed liaison office, is called capable, competent

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, appointed on Friday Zhang Xiaoming as director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.

Zhang, 54, succeeds Wang Guangya. Zhang had been director of the liaison office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and will be replaced by Wang Zhimin.

Leaving Hong Kong at the airport on Friday morning, Zhang urged residents of Hong Kong from all sectors to believe in themselves, in Hong Kong and in the country, reiterating President Xi Jinping’s remarks during the 20th anniversary celebration of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland in July.

Xi’s remarks have already pointed a direction for Hong Kong’s future, Zhang said.

Hong Kong people, the city and the country are clearly closely linked. It guarantees Hong Kong’s future prosperity and stability, and ensures Hong Kong people’s aspiration for better lives will be fulfilled, Zhang said, adding that he always believed Hong Kong is a blessed place.

In parting Hong Kong, Zhang quoted three sentences to express his feelings for Hong Kong after his position there during the past five years.

He quoted a verse from well-known poet Su Shi from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to sum up his five-year term. The verse was meant to say that looking back with all the ups and downs along the way, the rainy or sunny days in the past shall not matter anymore.

He then quoted early 20th-century Chinese poet Xu Zhimo’s renowned verse of Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again, saying “gently I flick my sleeves, not even a wisp of cloud will I bring away”.

“But I did bring away a lot of sincere love from a lot of Hong Kong friends,” said Zhang.

Zhang also quoted the lyric of famous female singer Faye Wang’s song Legend, saying he will always be around for Hong Kong, never far away.

Zhang also thanked Hong Kong residents and media for their support, care and help to the liaison office and him.

In Beijing, Wang Guangya, who stepped down as head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said he believed that Zhang is capable and competent for the new post.

Zhang joined the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in 1980s as a junior official.

He was promoted to deputy director in 2004 and was appointed director of the liaison office of Hong Kong in 2012.

Wang Zhimin, 60, has worked in Hong Kong for many years since 1992 and has been deeply engaged in youth affairs. He was appointed deputy director of the liaison office of Hong Kong in 2009 and appointed deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in April 2015. He was relocated as the director of Liaison Office of Central People’s Government in Macao Special Administrative Region in July 2016.

Zheng Xiaosong, 58, will take over as the director of the Liaison Office of Central People’s Government in Macao.

BEIJING – Institutions of higher education in China should set up public courses on health education, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a guideline on the issue released Monday.

The courses will teach students about healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, mental health, sex and reproductive health, safety and handling of emergencies, according to the guideline.

Schools should select high-quality content for the courses based on the health issues that students are particularly concerned about, in order to attract them to take the courses, the guideline said.

Health education must become a part of the education system with in-class education playing a major role, while schools should integrate their educational resources to draw out health education plans that fit their own situations, the guideline continued.

According to the MOE, despite schools’ efforts in bettering health education and students’ health in recent years, some of the students are yet to be fully aware of their health, often illustrated by their lack of sleep and exercise, irregular daily routine, unhealthy diet and others.

BEIJING -Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with 40 new ambassadors to China on Saturday, ahead of the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Li spoke highly of the development of China’s relations with their countries, welcomed them to China and extended his greetings and best wishes to their countries’ leaders and people.

Li said China values the friendly ties with these countries, remains committed to the path of peaceful development, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and sticks to the principles of multilateralism, as well as trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

China will work with other countries to cope with difficulties and challenges and promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development in the region and the world at large, he said.

Stressing that China has achieved remarkable results in economic and social development in nearly 40 years since its reform and opening-up, Li said it not only benefits the Chinese people, but also contributes to the peace and development of the world.

We are ready to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of other countries, the premier said.

These ambassadors conveyed their leaders’ greetings on China’s National Day, saying that it is a priority of their foreign policies to develop relations with China.

After the meeting, Li invited the ambassadors to a reception marking the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

China’s National Day is on Oct 1.

China needs to prioritize the tackling of solid waste pollution and strengthen supervision over implementation of related law, the country’s top legislature said on Tuesday.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress conducted inspections this year on the enforcement of the law on solid waste pollution for the first time since 2005, when the revised law took effect. The inspections were finished by the end of August.

Inspection teams headed by top national legislators including Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, visited 10 areas including Tianjin, Shanxi and Jiangsu provinces. Legislators and leaders of the ministries involved discussed the results at a meeting on Tuesday.

Zhang acknowledged achievements in preventing and tackling solid waste nationwide in recent years. The teams also found problems that cause environmental and health risks, he said.

Problems arise from the large quantity of solid waste, from industrial and agricultural sources, inspections showed.

Solid waste controls should be given priority, along with other pollution reduction efforts, Zhang said, because it is closely linked with air, water and soil pollution.

The national legislative body will urge governments to enforce the law, he said, since the inspections’ results suggest that governments need to improve their procedures to make the prevention efforts work efficiently and scientifically.

Shanxi, one of the inspected provinces, has strengthened controls in reducing solid waste by building more plants to process industrial waste, helping the province, China’s coal heartland, improve its environmental quality.

In 2016, 66.1 percent of the solid waste from industrial production, like fly ash and coal refuse, has been processed, for an increase of 44.1 percentage points over the level in 2005, when the revised law took effect, said He Tiancai, vice-governor of Shanxi, in a briefing about the control efforts a week ago.

Over 123 million metric tons of solid waste was processed last year in multiple ways, said Zhang Zhanxiang, deputy director of the Shanxi Provincial Economic and Information Committee.

For example, fly ash, mainly discharged from coal-fired power plants, has been used to make construction materials like autoclaved bricks and cement, Zhang Zhanxiang said. He added that cement production could consume 9 to 11 million tons annually.

Shanxi plans to increase the processing rate for solid waste to 70 percent by the end of 2020 in order to tackle the pollution from solid waste and protect human health, He, the vice-governor, said.

Editor’s Note: China is rolling out a major documentary series on its diplomatic principles, practices and achievements over the past five years. The English-language version of the program is now also available on TV and online. To help audience better understand Chinese diplomacy, Xinhua is releasing a variety of reports that include anecdotes, quotable quotes, facts and figures.

BEIJING – The following is a set of numbers related to the international community’s broad support for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative:

100 — On Jan. 18, 2017, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, President Xi Jinping delivered a speech, saying that the Belt and Road Initiative he put forward aims to achieve win-win and shared development.

Over 100 countries and international organization have supported the initiative, and a large number of early harvest projects have been launched, he said.

30/50 — Pakistan was the destination of Xi’s first overseas visit in 2015. His 30-minute speech at the Pakistani parliament on April 21 was interrupted more than 50 times by applause. The leaders of various political parties in Pakistan expressed their strong support for the Belt and Road Initiative.

1+4 — In a speech at the Pakistani parliament, Xi said: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a focal point of our joint efforts to achieve mutual development and we should use this economic corridor to drive our practical cooperation with focus on Gwadar Port, energy, infrastructure development and industrial cooperation.

The Belt and Road Initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming to build trade and infrastructure networks along the ancient Silk Road routes connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.

BEIJING — China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said Tuesday it had launched a special campaign to crack down on pollution in imported waste processing.

The month-long campaign starting from July 1 came as the country saw serious pollution caused by a number of small companies processing imported waste, the ministry said.

It said 420 inspectors had been selected from 27 provincial regions to form 60 teams to conduct full-scale examinations.

Inspectors will focus on whether enterprises have passed environmental evaluations, violated rules in pollutant discharge, or illegally transferred waste imports, among other aspects.

Those who breach environmental regulations should be investigated and punished in a timely manner, the ministry said.

Local officials will be summoned for talks if they act slowly in dealing with problems, according to the ministry.

The Chinese government is stepping up the fight against pollution and environmental degradation as decades of fast growth have left the country saddled with smog and contaminated soil.

In April, a reform plan to improve management of solid waste imports to protect environmental security and public health was adopted.

Delegates from around the world attending a meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, in Ordos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, get a taste of local food, drink and culture on Sept 11, 2017. [Photo by ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

China will stick to its commitment to fight against desertification and further strengthen the cooperation with all parties and international communities to make joint efforts for a better world, President Xi Jinping said in a congratulatory letter to a UN environment meeting on Monday.

The high-level segment of the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification is being held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, from Monday to Wednesday.

“Desertification is a challenge that is faced by all people, which also has a major influence on world development. We need to promote the principle of respecting and protecting nature. The environment should always be our priority,” Xi wrote in the letter.

Xi said it has been 21 years since the UN desertification convention took effect. Major efforts from the parties have produced significant changes since then, but many people still suffer from desertification.

“The theme of this year’s conference is Combating Desertification for Human Well-being. Under new frameworks, some major positive influence will be seen to build a better ecosystem for the whole world,” he said.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang, who attended the conference, said China will fulfill its commitment and achieve its sustainable development goals by 2030, with green building a crucial part of the country’s effort to combat desertification.

The 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) opens in Ordos city in North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Sept 11, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

About 400 million people in 18 Chinese provinces were affected by desertification in the 1950s, according to the State Forestry Administration. A mass campaign against desertification started in 1956.

In 1978, the Chinese government decided to launch several mass campaigns to combat desertification, such as the Three-North Shelter Forest Program placing forest windbreaks in 13 provinces in northern China and known as the “Great Green Wall”.

“China is very experienced in land renewal. We’ve seen a successful case in the Kubuqi Desert, where 6,000 square kilometers of land once covered by sand is now green and more than 100,000 of its people are now out of poverty,” said Monique Barbut, the UN desertification convention executive secretary.

China joined the UN convention in 1994 and promulgated the world’s first law dedicated to sand prevention and control in 2001. Most nations use regulations for this purpose

In the past five years, the area of desert decreased in China by 242,400 hectares. In 12 northern provinces and regions including Inner Mongolia, the number of people living under the poverty line fell from 47.11 million to 13.42 million.

Liu Dongsheng, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, said China has set a goal to turn half of the country’s desert into green areas by 2020. And by 2050, he said all the country’s desert that can be changed will be made green.